A Report is being presented to Bedford Borough Council’s (BBC) Executive on Wednesday on the Local Plan Review, to meet development needs up to 2040. At this meeting the Executive will be asked to approve the Draft Plan for public consultation (Regulation 18).
With the Council still accepting submissions on further sites as part of this consultation, here are the key takeaways from this review. The review itself is being undertaken to meet a commitment in Policy 1 of the adopted Local Plan 2030 that was only adopted in January 2020, reflecting the fact it was plan brought forward under the transitional arrangements and in accordance with 2012 NPPF, rather than the 2019 version.
Based on the updated Standard Method, the Local Housing Need will be for 1,275 dwellings per annum (dpa) between 2020 – 2040. This is a significant increase (around 30%) on the current annual requirement of 970 dpa in the adopted Local Plan.
With current commitments (land allocated or with planning permission for housing) of 13,000 new homes across the Borough, this means that the Local Plan 2040 will need to plan for an additional 12,500 homes.
The requirement for new employment land is calculated as 171ha. With 48ha currently available in the Borough, an additional 123ha needs to be allocated in the Local Plan 2040. Acknowledging Bedford’s central location in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, it has also been suggested that the Local plan should provide 2 new 30ha business parks, in addition to Medbury Farm in Elstow, which was allocated in the Council’s Allocations and Designations Plan (2013).
The consultation draft Plan includes a number of potential options for the spatial strategy to meet development needs, with these largely focusing on expansion to the existing urban area, along the A421, but with the potential for a new settlement or two also mooted.
Ox-Cam Arc & East West Rail
The consultation on the precise alignment of the route of the new East West Railway line, between Bedford and Cambridge, is due to end this week (9 June 2021). The preferred option (Route E) seeking to pass through Bedford Midland Station and out to the north, but until a final decision on the alignment is published, the Report acknowledges there is a risk that it could conflict with emerging proposals in this local plan. The Council is essentially planning growth before final decisions are made on the route of key infrastructure projects such as EWR.
Both the Report and Plan also recognise that there is a risk that the LP2040 will have to proceed ahead of the Ox-Cam Arc Spatial Framework, due to the timetable commitment for the former in the current Local Plan. This may mean BBC has to commit to another early review of LP2040. This is a prediction we have made in various articles over the past few years. As we have stated before, the Arc Spatial Framework will undoubtably have an impact on Bedford Borough’s ability to best respond to the vision as it emerges, alongside progressing the next round of development plans. In an ideal world Bedford would follow in behind the development of the Spatial Framework allowing the new Local Plan to capitalise on and deliver upon the opportunities that growth in the Arc will bring. However, that is not where we are and the Local Plan therefore needs to ensure that strategies are flexible enough to respond to the Spatial Framework and realise opportunities for growth where they arise.
In order for a submission of LP2040 by the January 2023 deadline, the timetable for the production of the review is currently to hold consultation on a draft local plan strategy and policies in Summer 2021, followed by a consultation on a plan for submission in Summer 2022, with plan submission in January 2023.
Next steps for landowners
As part of this consultation, BBC is still accepting the submission of further sites. If you own land or know of any landowners that may be interested in submitting their land for consideration, please get in contact with us for an informal conversation on how we might assist.
Read the full report here: https://councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk/documents/s55106/Item%2008%20Local%20Plan%202040.pdf